Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

The Role of Faith

August 31, 2011

There are different aspects of faith.

I.  Saving Faith  Ephesians 2:8-10

We recognize that we are saved by grace through faith for good works.  We do not reach out to God.  God, by his grace has reached out to us.  We are able to respond to God’s grace by receiving it in faith, or rejecting it in unbelief.  If we have responded in faith, then the Spirit of God enters into our hearts and we are “born again’ in the Spirit.  If the Spirit of God dwells within us, then we will be changed.  We do not change so that we can be saved.  We are saved so that we can change.

II.   Growing Faith  II Corinthians 8:7

As we continue in our relationship with God our faith will grow.  The more that we see God at work in our lives, and in the lives of others, the deeper our faith will be established.  As time goes on, the various tests and trials of life will not shake our faith in the One who is with us always.

III.  Miraculous Faith

A.  Matthew 27:21  This verse, by itself, gives us the impression that we can ask for anything that we want, and that we will receive it, if only we have enough faith.

B.  James 4:3  This verse tells us that there are things that we ask for and do not receive, not because of a lack of faith, but rather because we have asked “amiss”.

C.  I John 5:14-15  this verse reveals the condition that if we ask anything “according to His will”  he hears us.  We recognize that we must be willing to pray, even as Jesus prayed,  “not my will, but thine, be done”.

D.  I Corinthians 12:7-11 reveals that miraculous faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, distributed as He wills.  We all need saving faith.  We also all should have a faith that recognizes that God can do anything.  Miraculous faith is when God reveals to us , not that He can, but that He will, do something.

Sometimes people want something so badly, that they wrongly assume that their will is God’s will and then their  miraculous faith is in error.  This can be devastating.  It is caused by a lack of understanding that we are to submit to the will of God, even if we do not understand it.

E.  Philippians 4:6-7 We can bring our requests to God, knowing that He hears us and is able to help us.  We can know that whatever happens, His grace is sufficient for us, and so we can be at peace.

I hope that you will take the time to look up the verses that are listed.  They are powerful and important  in presenting the complete message.

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Not My Will

August 25, 2011

God does not conform to our will.  We are to conform to the will of God.  Yet, sometimes I think that Christians try to force God to do their will.  They pray, they quote scripture, they fast, they give, they work, and they expect to receive the desired answer to their prayers.

What if the object of their prayers is not in accordance with the will of God?

How can that be?  The prayer is for something good, worthy, even necessary.

As humans, we think like humans.  God is far above us in understanding.  When God does not answer our prayers, it is not because he cannot hear.  It is not that he is unable to do what we ask.  It is that he has other plans. We should seek to accept what God has for us.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him.”  I John 5:14-15

We should include in our prayers the same line that Jesus used, “not my will, but thine, be done.”

Divine Healing

June 14, 2011

I believe that God is able to heal people.  James 5:14-15 says “Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. ”

Healing is also listed among the gifts of the Spirit “…to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, (I Cor 12:9) but there is a qualification stated in verse 11 “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

The power of God and the will of God must somehow be reconciled in our thinking.  We recognize that God is able to bring healing, sometimes instantly through a miraculous touch, sometimes over time, and sometimes in combination with medical treatment.  (Did you know that anointing with oil was a form of medical treatment, not just a prayer format?)  Yet people do not live forever in these bodies.  Only God knows how much time we have on this earth.

I believe that the key is found with how Paul dealt with his “thorn in the flesh”.  II Cor 12:7-9 says  “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing.  I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me.  ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

God’s grace is sufficient for us.  God may bring the gift of healing to our lives, or He will give us the grace to deal with our own “thorn in the flesh”.  Either way, our lives can be a testimony of the grace of God, either by healing , or by how we deal with the afflictions of this life.

Ask Anything

June 13, 2011

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  John 14:13-14

When we read these verses, it sounds like we are being given a blank check.  We can have whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus.

It is not that simple.  The phrase “in My name”  refers to asking on behalf of Christ.  It is similar to the phrase “Dad, said…” that we may have used as children when dealing with our siblings.  When used properly, it was powerful.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”   I John 5:14 & 15

The phrase “according to His will” is critical.  Do we know the will of God?  God’s ways are not our ways.  If we are honest, we will acknowledge that God may use ways that we do not like, nor understand, to accomplish His purposes.

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”James 4:2b-3

We can, and should, ask for anything that we desire, but we should recognize that not all things are according to His will.  We must always be willing to submit to the will of God.  It is not all about us, and our happiness or desires.  It is about living out “thy will be done”.

God and Modern Medicine

December 7, 2010

A few months ago,  I made the comment to a friend that “Modern medicine hadn’t done anything for me.”

That has changed.

After months of tests and appointments, I have been placed on medicine for my heart.

I started to feel better within hours.  It has been four days now and I can say with confidence that the medicine appears to be doing its’ job.  The symptoms that had been concerning me have pretty well disappeared.

One little pill, twice a day.  It is a good thing.

I also acknowledge all the prayers that have been said on my behalf.  I am profoundly thankful, that all that is needed at this time is a little medicine, and that there are no side effects at this time.  I believe that God is able to work supernaturally, but that at times He works through doctors and modern medicine.  We pray, we seek medical attention when necessary, and we pray some more.  We recognize that all healing is a gift of God, whether it comes through the laying on of hands, or a little pill.

Chi Alpha @ CCC

August 26, 2010

I have been pastoring the same church since 1991.  I have been teaching at CCC since 1998.  This fall there is something new.  In a way, it is a combining of the two jobs that I have been doing for so many years.  This year we are hoping to start a Chi Alpha group at CCC.

Chi Alpha is a student ministry organization affiliated with the Assemblies of God.   Frequently Chi Alpha groups are led by individuals who act as campus missionaries, or pastors, on a full-time basis.  They raise their support from churches that support their vision of reaching out to the college students.

I am not becoming a full-time Chi Alpha worker, but none-the-less, will be working in campus ministries on a volunteer basis.

We are starting with a light schedule.  We will have bi-weekly meetings consisting of a time of sharing, a time of prayer and a time for Bible study and discussion.  We may have occasional outreach or fellowship activities as time and interest dictate.

At this time I have fulfilled the school requirements for a student group, except that I need a sufficient number of students indicating interest.  I have sign up sheets around the college and hope to have enough names shortly after classes begin in the fall.

I would appreciate your prayers as I begin this new endeavor.

Martyred!

August 12, 2010

On Thursday August 5th,  ten members of a medical team doing humanitarian work in Afghanistan were murdered by the Taliban.  They were captured, accused of trying to convert people to Christianity, and of spying.  They were executed without  mercy and without trial.

They were Christian.  This is true.

It is claimed that they had Dari language Bibles with them.  This could well be true.

It is claimed that they had “spying gadgets”.  They probably had an assortment of electronic devices, probably associated with their medical work.

Did they deserve to die?  Absolutely not!!

They were aware of the risks associated with working in the area.  They had accepted those risks because of their love for Christ and for the Afghan people.  We are again reminded of the ruthless nature of the Taliban, and our need to pray for Christians around the world who may live, or work, in areas that are hostile to Christianity.

God will welcome these martyrs to their heavenly home.

We should pray for their families comfort, strength, and peace.

We should also pray that their executioners may come to repentance.

It remains to be seen, what will be the full  impact of their lives, and deaths, in the region, and around the world.

Leaking Oil

June 22, 2010

My first motorcycle was a 1979 KZ 750.  I had just been discharged from the Marine Corps and brought the bike back to Minnesota with me.  I was newly married and used the bike as a second means of transportation.  There was no garage where I lived, so it had to sit outside in all kinds of weather. 

I tarped it occasionally.

After a few years, I moved to Iowa.  The bike came with, but again, there was no garage, at first.

Finally we moved into a house that had a garage.

The roof leaked badly, and the garage itself did not warrant repair.  It was quite a few years before we were able to build a new one.

Through all the years, the bike would faithfully start-up each spring.  I did occasional necessary maintenance, but the poor bike was not treated well.

It looked bad, but still ran.

I purchased a different bike, and mentioned to my son that the kaw would go to the first person to give me a hundred dollars.

He gave me a hundred dollars.

That was not what I had in mind.

The bike went off to a friend of mine who did a lot of work on it to make it more dependable for my son who took it back to Minnesota when he went to college.

He rode it up there for two years, putting quite a few miles on it, as his girlfriend lived forty miles away.

Last fall it came back home to Iowa.  It is time for some more TLC.  It is leaking oil from a few places, some of the leaks are pretty bad.  I now have the parts that I need, and hope to get it repaired in time for the 4th of July. 

A friend of mine has often commented that the continuing life of this motorcycle is evidence of the power of prayer.

I could use your prayers the next week or so.

A Shield About Me

March 30, 2010

On Sunday morning in the second service we were singing the old song based on Psalms 3:3, “A Shield About Me”.  My wife, who was leading worship felt impressed to linger for a while on this song, which was the last in our list.  It contained both a statement of faith, and the response of worship.

I later preached on the triumphal entry, it was Palm Sunday after all, but I included the prophetic word that Jesus spoke over Jerusalem, and the episode of Jesus driving the merchants, and money changers out of the temple.  I refered to judgement against the city, and in the temple.  I connected these to a warning that judgement could come against our country, and even against Christianity.  Would anyone deny the presence of sin in our land, or in the church that calls itself Christian?

However, the good news is; for those who are trusting in the Lord, for those who are faithful and obedient, God will be a shield about them.

The Greatest Pleasure

February 17, 2010

Yesterday I read something in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics that caught my attention.  “…the activity of philosophic wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of virtuous activities…”  He goes on to say, basically, that it isn’t for everyone.  Yet, he ranks philosophic reflection as the highest pleasure.

I will admit, that there are times when contemplative thinking has been profoundly pleasant.  This is especially true when you combine philosophical inquiry with theological reflection and prayer.  (I can imagine some of you are rolling your eyes by now, or perhaps have stopped reading, or maybe even have fallen asleep!)

Maybe it is an age thing.  In Hinduism, the third stage of life, from 50-75 is one of slowly withdrawing from the world, spending time with the grandchildren, and increasing your focus on religious and philosophical pursuits.  I have to admit that the idea of increased religious and philosophical meditations is appealing to me.

I suppose that means I’m in the right professions.